Hardware

Geek Gifts 2009: Logitech G19 keyboard

The Logitech G19 keyboard, with its backlit keys, large programmable built-in gamepad, and programmable LCD represents the culmination of technological advances in gaming keyboard design.

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Computer gaming has changed tremendously since the early 1980s and the era of the Commodore 64. Games today are sophisticated, graphically intense experiences that pull players into worlds and environments that could only be imagined in years gone by. However, throughout this period there has always been at least on constant - the keyboard.

In so many ways the computer keyboard is the interface that distinguishes computer gaming from console gaming. So it is no wonder that companies specializing in computer peripheral equipment have continually improved the standard computer keyboard to make it more game friendly. The Logitech G19 keyboard, with its backlit keys, large programmable built-in gamepad, and programmable LCD epitomizes this effort. The G19 represents the culmination of technological advances in gaming keyboard design.

Specifications

What I like

  • Construction: The Logitech G19 is solidly constructed and the keys give good tactile feedback when you press them.
  • Backlit: The keyboard is backlit, which means it is great for gaming in a darkened room, which can really heighten the tension is certain games.
  • Programmability: With the included software package, the G19 is completely programmable. Elite computer gamers want to squeeze every advantage they can out of their equipment.
  • Powered USB ports: The powered USB 2.0 ports are perfect for electronic peripheral devices like iPods and smartphones.

What I don't like

  • Extra power connection: The powered USB 2.0 ports and the GamePanel LCD cannot get enough power from a standard USB computer connection. That kind of power has to come from a power outlet. If you are a typical gadget geek like me, you are already creating a fire hazard with the number of electronic devices you have plugged into a single wall outlet. The last thing you want to see is another plug.
  • GamePanel LCD: This is probably more a matter of taste, but I found the GamePanel LCD to be a totally gratuitous luxury that really serves no purpose but to be a novelty doohickey. It is too small to really provide any timely or relative information that you need to know while playing a game.
  • Gamepad: The programmable gamepad, made up of 12 buttons down the left side of the keyboard, is a good idea, but the key layout is not something a power gamer will want to deal with. There are other programmable gamepads out there that do a much better job.
  • Cost: Perhaps the biggest drawback of the Logitech G19 keyboard is its price. At $199, this keyboard is priced about $120 more than the average top-quality standard PC.

Bottom line of Geeks

The Logitech G19 keyboard is a very good gaming-friendly keyboard. With programmable backlit keys, an experienced gamer can use the G19 to create a powerful interface to serve their gaming needs. However, a just as powerful keyboard, minus the unnecessary GamePanel LCD, can be purchased at better than half the price.

Geek score (out of 5)

  • Fun factor: ***
  • Geek factor: *****
  • Value: *
  • Overall: **

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

5 comments
davidbteague
davidbteague

What switches does it use? Are they like most keyboards, wimpy, giving little tactile feed back? Or are they like my 1990 Northgate Omnikey 102 (that I am STILL using) with plenty of feedback. It weighs a ton, but who carries his keyboard around?

RealInIT
RealInIT

Now I know what NOT to buy!

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I like it because: 1. There are no extra "special" keys, which I detest because I primarily play FPS if I actually find time to game. 2. No special fancy schmancy drivers needed, though you may choose to install them. They are necessary to update the firmware, but if it works there is no need to mess with this feature. You also lose some special functions if you choose not to install them. 3. It's cheap compared to other gaming keyboards and newegg usually has free shipping on them. 4. The key caps are covered in some weird rubbery texture that I have yet to wear off amazingly. 5. The backlights are just right. You can also switch them off or just turn on thee wasd keys. 6. It just looks cool. Thinks I hate about it: 1. Media player controls, don't like them on a keyboard. I like just regular keys, nothing fancy. I will say that if you do use them, they work well. 2. The backlight is blue only. I hate to be picky, but sometimes I get tired of blue. I also have a Razer Copperhead mouse, which is what influenced my keyboard decision. No special drivers needed, but I had to install them to upgrade the firmware to get rid of a weird glitch my mouse had. The setting are stored in the firmware on the mouse, so when I toss it in my laptop bag, it will retain all the settings from my desktop...which is just plain cool for a guy who is picky about mouse settings like me. Before it I always used "ergonomic mice." I seem to have less wrist pain using this little, light weight, fingertip style mouse. Then again, it could also be that I've become more active and joined a gym. I've owned it for a few years, and I like it so much I recently bought one to use at work. I wish there was a way to deactivate the pulsating blue logo, especially at work. That's just my 2 cents. It sounds like a product plug, but words can't express how comfortable the mouse is compared to all the m$, logitech and countless other ergonomic, wireless or wired mice I've used over the years.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I have been using the Belkin Nostromo n52te for about a year and I am hooked on it. With that gamepad, the keyboard can be relatively standard. But what about you? What keyboard do you use? Why?

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

The tactile feel was about average for modern keyboards. I like stronger feedback from my keyboards too. The odd thing about the G19 was that it did not feel sturdy. Heavy game pounding devices should feel more solid.

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